Hercules Thanksgiving Dinner Unbound!

It’s Thanksgiving again and that means it’s time for us to once more travel to ancient Greece and visit our good friend Hercules. This time around he is living in the DC Universe and is ready to share his adventures with you on this holiday to make it even more special! What also makes this special is the fact that this is the last time, at least for a long while, that we will be visiting Hercules on Thanksgiving so I really hope you enjoy this update while you eat your turkey, ham or vegan meal! Looking back its been a great time writing these updates based on Hercules from all types of comic companies as I have covered ones from Marvel, Topps, Radical, DELL and Graphic Universe! We have chatted about his Legendary Journeys, his Twelve Labors, and even meeting the Three Stooges! We have gone to war alongside him; we even traveled to space with him in order to find his true calling. In other words Hercules and his comic adventures really have been a Holiday Tradition, and while it’s sad its ending, it for sure is not a full goodbye as one day Herc will return for Thanksgiving! But let’s not harp on the farewell and let’s get to this DC Comic Hercules Turkey Day update!

Hercules has had a strange journey in his life in the DC Universe. His first appearance was in All Star Comics # 8 where he appeared alongside Wonder Woman, and while that version of Hercules would appear in a handful of issues and was pretty much a jerk, it was the Earth-86 version that is our subject for this update. This Hercules is based on the Greek mythology and has been bound with chains for centuries, and only breaks free in the future after World War III has taken its toll on the world. Now wandering the apocalyptic world, he wants revenge on those who bound him as well as his brother Ares, the God Of War. This version of Hercules was introduced by DC in 1975 and sadly became wiped from the DC Universe thanks to the acts of the mini series “Crisis On Infinite Earth” that collapsed many of the Multiverses. This event took place in 1985-1986. I was a young man when I first discovered and started reading Hercules Unbound. If I had to guess, I would say I was around 12 or 13 and got issues from the Bookie Parlor as well as Mavericks Cards And Comics, and I can remember they were always very cheap and were in the .50 and $1.00 boxes. This was also a series that I knew I had to have every issue of and can remember reading them and enjoying them as it was like Hercules in a Mad Max type world, just less extreme. Over the years, somehow a box of my DC Comics became missing and this series was in the box as well as my complete set of The Joker comics, but thanks to all the comic shops around here as well as online comic retailers I was able to track them all down again and re-read them. If you enjoy Hercules in comics or just like classic 70’s DC Comics, give this series a chance as it’s pretty dang fun.

Remco teamed with DC Comics to make a toy line that would be a cash-in on the popular Mattel series Masters Of The Universe that was a must have for all the kids of the 80’s. The series was called “Enter The Lost World Of The Warlord” and brought out many amazing DC Comic characters based on mythology characters and warriors. The series was headlined by Warlord of course but also had characters Arak Son Of Thunder, Machiste, Mikola, Deimos and Hercules! Growing up I can remember seeing the figures at garage sales and I myself at one time had Hercules as well as Arak, in fact I still have them both to this day. At my Brassfield grandparents, I remember that they had Hercules there and when playing with my cousin Nathan, I would choose him to be one of my heroes in the toy battles. And of course I remember the amazing full-page ad for the toy series that appeared in DC Comics and showed the figures as well as let you know you could get them at K-Mart. These figures were pretty cool and while cheaply made, they were must-have toys for me in my youth as they were based on the classic Sword And Sandal heroes of the films I enjoyed watching. On a side note, I really do want to get a Machiste figure in good shape and if I ever do, I will let you readers know.

You readers want to know another fun silly Hercules movie that I enjoy? Well let me tell you about “Hercules And The Masked Rider” from 1963, one silly and goofy film that has our muscle bound hero teaming with a Zorro like masked hero in order to fight a ruler and the rich who are pushing the poor down. The plot from IMDB is this: “In 16th century Spain, Don Francisco reluctantly betroths his daughter, Blanca, to the arrogant Don Ramiro in order to preserve the lands in the family estate. Then Don Juan, Don Francisco’s nephew and Blanca’s true love, returns from the war in Flanders. Don Juan dons a mask and joins with a gypsy band led by Estella to fight against the forces of Don Ramiro. In this effort he’s aided by a bare-chested muscleman and also by Captain Blasco who works for Don Ramiro but whose sympathies lie elsewhere.”

The crazy thing about this Hercules film is the fact that, for the most part, Hercules takes a backseat to Don Juan and his quest to get his true love. The fun aspect of this film is that it truly does blend together a Hercules film with a Zorro movie and a dash of Robin Hood is thrown in for good measure. This is a film that I discovered on DVD thanks to the company Cheezy Flicks and my friend Josh Weinberg, who used to sell movies at a local Flea Market, gave it to me as a gift, as he knew I enjoyed classic Sword And Sandal films. Alan Steel is the actor who played Hercules in the film, and while he is good as the muscle bound hero, he is not in the same league as Steve Reeves, but does do a solid job in the role. So if you like over the top cheesy movies with poorly dubbed dialogue, then check this one out!

Alan Steel was born Sergio Ciani in Rome Italy on September 7, 1935 and started his career in movies in 1958 in a unaccredited role in the film “Herod The Great”, but his big break came in 1959 when he became the stuntman and body double for Steve Reeves in the movies Hercules Unchained and The Giant Of Marathon, the latter of which he also had a role in. And when he changed his stage name to Alan Steel, more roles in Sword And Sandal films started to pour in, and being also a bodybuilder helped locked many roles in such films as Samson (1961), The Fury Of Hercules (1962), Hercules And The Black Pirates (1964), Hercules Against The Moon Men (1964), 3 Avengers (1964) among many other films of this genre with his final film being in 1979 with the film Baby Love. With Italian Cinema moving away from the Peplum Films (Sword and Sandal), Alan Steel retired from acting in 1979 and went on to still be a bodybuilder. Sadly on September 5, 2015 at the age of 79 the cinema strongman passed away in his sleep just two days away from his 80th birthday. It’s crazy to think that Alan Steel played Hercules about four times and next to Steve Reeves I think more fans of this style of cinema know him as the popular mythic hero than many of the other actors that played the role. Over the years of doing so many Horror and Comic Conventions it’s a shame that I never got to meet many of the icons of Peplum Cinema as it would have been great to have meet the likes of Steve Reeves, Alan Steel, Brad Harris and Reg Park to name a few before they passed away.

So before we get to the comic review of DC Comics series Hercules Unbound I would like to take just a moment to chat and update you readers about the Hercules Comic that Jeff Potter and I was creating for Sparkle Comics. As you longtime readers remember we wanted to start a Sword And Sandal comic line that would feature all the heroes of those films coming back for more adventures. The first in the series was Samson by Don Stephenson and sadly the sales of that book were below average and the feedback was mixed as everyone praised the amazing artwork Don did but they wanted more action in the story. So with that we feared that readers would not be ready for more Sword And Sandal comics so Hercules took a back seat for awhile and Jeff and I went on to work on a few other projects first like Black Jack # 1, Eternal Sleep # 1 and Babysitter Massacre # 0 to name a few. But I have some great news for those Sparkle Comics readers who want to see Hercules once more come alive in the pages of comics that has a cinema feel to it and that’s I think in 2022 we will begin work on the comic that will feature Hercules fighting off a horde of cannibalistic cavemen in order to save a beautiful woman who’s being sacrificed to them in order to appease the King of her village! I am very much looking forward to developing this issue as well as several issues that will follow that will pit our hero Hercules against so many amazing creatures and foes.

When I made the a hard decision to stop covering a Hercules Comic on Thanksgiving, it really was a tough one to make as I have been doing so since 2013 and it was something that I and many of you readers looked forward to every Turkey Day. But over time and eight years of covering him and his comic adventures it was time to walk away for awhile, and keep in mind I am not saying Hercules will not return for a Thanksgiving update, I just don’t see me doing so for a very long time as I have said above. But when coming to an end I knew I must cover the DC Comics universe version as we have covered Marvel’s twice and growing up I can remember reading the DC ones and loving them.

Hercules Unbound # 1 ***
Released in 1975     Cover Price .25     DC Comics     # 1 of 12

World War III has ended four weeks ago and on a small island Hercules breaks free from chains that have bound him to a boulder for many decades. Once free he has one thing on his mind and that’s revenge on the one who has held him captive that long, and that person is the God Of War Ares! But before he can think too much about it, he notices a young man and his dog on a ship being attacked by water demons! Hercules dives in the water and beats down the demons and comes aboard the ship and meets Kevin, a blind young man with the bravery of a warrior and the dog is Basil, who is friendly and loyal. Kevin tells Hercules about how he and his brother Jason were on vacation with their dad when World War III started and his brother was killed and many the people were affected by a nuclear bomb’s radiation that has caused them to be blistered mutated monsters who want to eat humans! And if not for Basil guiding him to the boat, he would have been killed. Hercules does not like what he hears and now has a goal to get Kevin to his father and to then take the fight to Ares who is watching the war from Mount Olympus and loves the death and destruction all around him and is even playing all sides against each other in order to cause more deaths. While Hercules with Kevin are now on land Hercules tells how he was set up by Ares as he was mad at Hercules for his stance on wars, and tricked him and chained him up. Hercules and Kevin are now in town and are attacked by Minotaur demons and once they take them down Hercules and his friend head for Rome, but Hercules notices that Kevin was very skilled with a slingshot even though he is blind. Once In Rome Hercules stops men from war and calls out Ares who sends his purple skinned champion Smasher to deal with Herc, and after a fight that leaves Hercule hurt and Basil the dog down, Kevin uses a rock and hits Smasher killing him. As Hercules is back up he notices that Ares has run away and worst of all Kevin finds that Smasher was his father mutated and now dead by his own hands.

This first issue of Hercules does a great job of building the world it takes place in, a world that is ravaged by war and nuclear fallout that has caused most men and women to mutate and go crazy all the while the old Gods of the world are playing their own sick and twisted games. Hercules has been chained to an island for around a thousand years and only by a miracle is he set free and when free finds a blind boy named Kevin and his dog Basil who helps him understand what is going on this this world he has been long removed from. That’s the thing about Hercules thus far, his instinct to be a hero and stand up for what is right is still a part of him, even if he does want revenge on Ares the God that placed him in chains. Kevin is an interesting lad as he is a true survivor and, while blind, does well for himself when it comes to protecting himself and his friends, truly there is more to him then meets the eye as his skill with a slingshot with no sight is too good. Ares The God Of War is living up to his name and is getting joy in playing all remaining sides of the world against each other as he loves death and battle and he is getting his fill of it in this new chaotic world. The comic does a great job of feeling like a classic hero story, but also does a great job of making the gloom and doom feel like a real threat to our heroes. This issue really did hold up for me after all these years, and I cannot wait to read the rest of this series again! The cover is great and eye catching and has a true classic 70’s DC Comic look to it. The interior art is done by the team of J.L. Garcia Lopez and the great Wally Wood and is great stuff and showcases why DC Comics at the time was a delivering some topnotch comic series. Over all if you like fantasy comics based on Hercules with a dash of Superheroes, then give this issue a read.  Now let’s see how issue two holds up!

Hercules Unbound # 2  ***
Released in 1976     Cover Price .25     DC Comics     # 2 of 12

Hercules with Kevin and Basil are now in Paris, France and are being attacked by more sinister demons and after taking them down, they meet fellow World War III survivors the Simon St. Charles a British older man, Dave Riggs a young man and Jennifer Monroe a pretty blonde woman. They invite Kevin and Hercules to come hide with them in a hideout that is stocked with drink and food. Meanwhile Ares is upset that the demons have failed to kill Hercules and summons Cerebus and his pair of two headed hounds of hell as he gets orders to attack and stop Hercules so that chaos and war can rule the Earth. Hercules and Jennifer go for a walk and it’s clear the God has fallen for the young woman who was once a supermodel, but their walk turns bad when the Hounds Of Hell attack Hecules and Cerebus runs off with Jennifer kidnapping her. Cerebus and Hercules fight for a few moments and Herc is knocked out and found later by Kevin and the rest that later who are upset that Jennifer is missing. Hercules, Kevin and Basil follow the trail and soon find that they have to enter Hell in order to save their new friend!

This second issue’s plot has Hercules heading to Paris only to find more survivors with one being a love interest, but Ares has plans to bring down Hercules and sends Cerebus to cause mayhem and take the young woman to Hell and force Hercules to follow him there were they could kill the God once and for all. Hercules in this issue is not trusting of other people, but yet his heart falls hard for Jennifer a model who as well seems to have an attraction to Hercules as well. Good old Hercules is headstrong in this issue and also finally questions how well Kevin gets around if he is blind, but does trust his young friend. Kevin and Basil are loyal to their friend Hercules and even rush into battle to be at his side and help the best they can. Jennifer is a young woman who at this point is trusting and seems to just accept the fact that Hercules is real and falls for his kindness and chiseled looks. Simon St. Charles and Dave Riggs seem like good guys but are also very much cowards and while they care about Jennifer they are not willing to risk themselves to save her. Ares is as evil as ever and wants to bring on total war and ride the world and himself of Hercules, a total ego driven God. Cerebus is a man who does what Ares asks and is super powerful and has the support of two hounds that have two heads and are ready to shred flesh. I do like that they give Cerebus a backstory of being sent to Hell over the love of a cheating woman that he would love to kill…man she did him wrong. This issue has some great drama and action and like before did a great job of blending them together and not making the story drag and keeping you wanting to see what is going to happen next. The cover art is solid and eye catching as the use of white and the red hounds of hell makes it stand out and the interior art once more is perfect and done by the team of J.L. Garcia Lopez and the great Wally Wood. So as you can see, this second issue is great and like the first held up with me when reading again.

Hercules Unbound # 3  **1/2
Released in 1976     Cover Price .25     DC Comics     # 3 of 12

Hercules along with Kevin and Basil jump into the deep hole and find a man named Orpheus who plays a lyre as well as the ferryman Charon of the river Styx, but Hercules and Kevin before they can set sail are attacked by a shadow demon that there is no way to defeat…that is until Kevin tells Orpheus who Hercules is and he uses his music to distract the demon allowing Hercules to defeat it. Orpheus asks to join them on their journey to save Jennifer and they take him along for the adventure and start the journey on the river after paying the toll. Meanwhile Cerebus arrives at the castle of Hades with Jennifer and informs the god of Hell that he is waiting for Hercules to try and save her, while waiting Cerebus opens up to Jennifer and the two start to become friends and she understands his reasons and loyalty to Ares. Meanwhile Orpheus tells Hercules about how he lost his bride and how Hades set him up to once more loose her with a cruel and yet simple trick. Hercules finally arrives at the castle and he is ready for war as he throws a tree trunk through the castles window alerting Cerebus who charges out ready for a brawl. Hercules and Cerebus are battling to the death as Orpheus talks to Pluto to just allow Jennifer to leave, and by accident Hercules punches a wall and it crumbles down and kills Cerebus who has now found peace. In the end Hercules, Jennifer, Kevin and Basil travel back to the overworld as Orpheus shows that he himself was a ghost as well and returns to the place he belongs. On Earth Simon and David are attacked by demons and are kidnapped and taken to speak to Ares The God Of War.

In this third issue Hercules with his friends travel to Hell in order to get Jennifer back as Cerebus has taken her there on the orders of Ares as Hades himself has agreed to host the epic showdown…and in the end the battle leaves Cerebus dead, but yet free from his torment of lost love and no longer being controlled by Ares. Hercules in this issue turns on his full hero mode as he battles a shadow demon as well as a very angry Cerebus in order to save Jennifer who clearly he is fallen in love with. Kevin and his dog Basil does what they can to help in this quest as does the spirit of Orpheus whose music can weaken the demons that stand before them. Cerebus himself is a bad guy, but does have a good heart and is only doing the bad stuff as his heart was broken many decades ago and Ares has taken advantage of his pain and uses him as a tool of battle and war. But while a bad guy you do kind of feel sorry for him when he gets crushed to death, but you also feel good about it as he has found peace. You also now know that Hades is on the side of Ares as he has allowed this all to take place in his kingdom…and it makes sense, as War equals more souls for him. One thing that is clearly going to come back on Hercules that takes place in this issue is the taking of Simon and David as you know Ares has no good plans for these two. The cover for this issue is good and eye catching and showcases the powerhouses fighting, and the interior artwork done by J.L. Garcia Lopez again and its solid work and brings me back to the days of reading old DC Comics. Over all a great issue that sets the stage even more for the Hercules and Ares showdown that we are building towards.

Hercules Unbound # 4  ***
Released in 1976     Cover Price .30     DC Comics     # 4 of 12

Hercules along with Kevin, Jennifer and Basil the dog are on a boat and are being attacked by a war ship, and when their foes try to board their ship our heroes fight back and find that their attackers are animal humanoids people who were attacking on the orders of Hunter Blood a madman who claims he is the ruler of England! Hercules has heard enough and heads toward England to break up this empire as well as see if the missing David and Simon are there, and once their Jennifer brings up that the note they found written by their missing friends could be a fake written by Ares, and Hercules blows that off and unknowingly insults her by saying that she is a woman and should leave things to him…and this of course enrages Jennifer! Meanwhile Hunter Blood is as well furious at his Cat Man who lead the attack on Hercules ship for failing and uses his radioactive eyes to fry him and then orders his men to bring him Hercules and his crew or they will as well will share that same fate. That night while camping Hercules and crew are attacked by the Animal People and are taken prisoner when they use sleep bullets on them, while Hunter Blood tries to charm Jennifer, Hercules and Kevin find themselves chained to tower bells! Hunter Blood explains to Jennifer that he collects fine art and treasures but that he can not see them as the effects of World War III have left him blind and his eyes now fire beams that decay things it hits! And this upsets him and says that Kevin and Hercules must pay and starts ringing the bells causing our heroes massive pain. With the words of Kevin going through his brain Hercules uses all his power and brings down the bell tower and crushes Blood Hunters collection, and as Blood Hunter starts to choke Jennifer to death Hercules appears and challenges him to a final fight.

This issue is a fun ride and has Hercules and his crew traveling to England in order to find their missing friends only for them to find a crazed madman and his animal humanoid henchmen! Hercules in this issue is on a true quest as he is really on a warpath to bring down Ares as well as try to bring peace to this world gone mad. He as well feels that he must protect his friends from harm, but does have a boneheaded look at women as he feels that they can not be the hero like him and that they should not think about battle and traps as that as well should only be left up to him…he has a lot to learn. Jennifer in this issue shows that she can fight and takes out a few of the animal people on their ship and as well seems to be wise on looking at all aspects of things before just rushing in like Hercules. Kevin and Basil are as helpful as ever and it’s clear that at this point Kevin looks at Hercules as a close friend. Hunter Blood is a man turned mad thanks to the radiation fallout of the war that has given him powerful eyes that decays anything he looks at! This power and also curse has driven him mad as he loves classic art and the fine things of life that he could never afford when the world was normal…he gets what he wants and because he can not see them he lashes out in fits of rage. The Animal Humanoid People are mindless followers who do what they are ordered in fear of what Blood Hunter would do to them if they did not. I like that the issue ends as well with a cliffhanger as Hercules freed himself from a deadly trap and is now wanting to beat the hell out of Hunter Blood who he himself wants death as his collection is gone…this is going to be an epic showdown for sure! The cover is eye catching and has Hercules raging in the streets of London and the interior art is fantastic and done by icons J.L. Garcia and Wally Wood! This is another great issue in this series and one that was fun to reread after all these years, and I really am looking forward to looking back at this whole series. So with that let’s see how this fifth issue holds up.

Hercules Unbound # 5  ***
Released in 1976     Cover Price .30     DC Comics     # 5 of 12

Hercules grabs a concrete pillar and is ready to go head to head with Hunter Blood as he wants him to let Jennifer go! And with his eyes Hunter Blood zaps the pillar and makes it rot and then hits the ground from under Hercules to fall through it and hit hard the subway that is below and then he smacks and knocks out Kevin and then drags Jennifer away as his Animal Humanoids follows. As Hercules wakes up he meets Durak Malloy a Ape Humanoid who leads a army of other animal humanoids who are at war with Blood Hunter and his people, and then they go above and find Kevin and Basil who are now both coming two and are all happy to see each other alive and well. Durak Malloy tells Hercules and Kevin that before World War III he was just a regular primate that was a lab animal and after the bomb went off spilled chemicals from the lab filled the air and made him and other animals intelligent! While Hercules and Durak sit in a theater and watch a movie, Kevin and Basil are attacked by Hunter Blood’s animal people and this alerts Hercules who springs into action who starts to rumble with them as Blood Hunter appears and uses his eyes on Big Ben to try and bring the landmark down onto his enemies as well as his own Animal people as he looks at them all as expendable. Hercules rushes to Hunter Blood who falls from his perch on a building and his own Animal Humanoid soldiers beat him to death, but Big Ben also falls and Hercules holds it up as long as he can as everyone gets to safety…but poor Basil the dog is not lucky as a stone falls and crushes him…Hercules and Jennifer’s hearts break as they watch Kevin mourn the loss of his faithful dog.

This fifth issue in Hercules Unbound has a mix of Planet Of The Apes thrown into it as I could swear that Ape humanoid Durak Malloy could have easily been taken out of the Marvel Comics series of that film that was running in 1975-1976! The plot of this one has Hercules taking on Hunter Blood as he tries his best to rid the world of this hero as well as anyone that is in his way that includes his own soldiers! Hercules in this issue is headstrong once again and thinks that his raw power can stop any enemy and he is quickly sent fallen to the ground when he finds his opponent is a more powerful mutant when it comes to his twisted eye beams. But while Hercules fumbles the first fight his power and hero attitude does end up saving the day and he even proves to Jennifer that he is a good person even if his thoughts sometime are primitive towards women. Poor Kevin tries his best to help in this issue and suffers the worst loss as his best friend and loyal dog Basil is killed by a fallen stone, sad to see Basil gone from the series. Jennifer takes a backseat in this issue and is pretty much just held captive until she is saved, and she herself got the best first look madness of Hunter Blood as she seen his true fall into madness. Durak Malloy is a cool character as he is Patient Zero of the animal humanoids and is at odds with the crazed Hunter Blood and his group, he is also the one that explains why the world now has human walking and talking animal people. Hunter Blood is a true madman who a deadly power that he abuses in order to rule with fear and threats of death, plus life to him really is cheap as he claims is own loyal foot soldiers are nothing more then mindless slaves to him…he is a fool and it’s great to watch him get beat to death at the hands of his own one time men. This issue also shows briefly David and Simon on a warship with Ares who alerts them they are being used as bait to snag Hercules, as the showdown between the Greek Gods is counting down. This issue was a fun and fast read filled with action, drama and some great sci-fi elements and yet still has that classic Sword and Sandal feel. The cover is great and has Hercules holding up the falling Big Ben tower and the team up of Garcia and Wood are on interiors again and it looks great, in other words another solid issue of Hercules Unbound.

Hercules Unbound # 6  ***
Released in 1976     Cover Price .30     DC Comics     # 6 of 12

Hercules, Jennifer and Durak Malloy along with his animal humanoids are all quite and sad as they walk along with Kevin who is hold the body of his canine friend Basil, and worse before they can really do anything to comfort him they are attacked by two waves of Ares’s Warriors and with Hercules might and Durak and his men’s firepower they make quick work of these soldiers. After the battle Hercules tells Kevin that he has a way to bring Basil back to life and this makes the young man very happy to hear, as Jennifer takes Hercules off to the side and asks how he plans to do so he explains to her that he witnessed Ares bring his dead pet hawk back from the dead, and that he planes on forcing his brother to do the same for Basil. Meanwhile Ares along with his army and his captives Simon St. Charles and Dave Riggs and they are heading towards Stonehenge, when Dave escapes with the help of Simon and this angers the God Of War who tells Simon he will pay for this, and he means it as he chains him to the barrel of a tank! Hercules wishes Durak and his men well as they are now splitting from Hercules quest and soon after a warn out Dave appears and tells them were Ares is and that they still have Simon, and this is all Hercules needed to hear as he makes his way to the landmark to have a final showdown with his brother. When Hercules arrives Ares sends his warriors to fight his brother and after making short work of them Ares joins the fight after being mocked by his brother, and the fight goes back and fourth and in the end Hercules uses his wits and might to bring his brother down! In defeat Ares uses his power to bring back Kevin’s dog Basil and rides away letting Hercules know that next time they meet one of them will have to die! So with that Hercules stands among his friends Kevin, Basil, Jennifer, Simon and Dave and in a world that has been destroyed by Nuclear War.

With issue six the Hercules on a path to fight Ares comes to an end in a battle at one of the most mystic sites in the world! This issues plot is really just the build up of Hercules making his way to Ares and along the way we learn that Ares can bring the dead back to life, Dave escapes being a prisoner and that Durak Malloy and his men have their own quest and break away from Hercules once they help him fight off some attacking warriors. Hercules in this issue is very focused on finding Ares and saving Jennifer’s friends from him as well as now knows he must force his brother to use his powers to bring back Basil from the grip of death. And once he gets into battle Hercules knows that his power will not fail him and that he must win at any and all coasts, and Herc even shrugs off a direct hit from a tank. Ares in this issue is very cocky and surrounds himself with warriors and war machines, as his end goal is the death of all humans! And even in defeat Ares stands by his word to help Basil but still warns that he will be back and next time he planes on killing his brother. And the characters of Kevin, Jennifer, Simon and Dave all take a backseat as the main focus is the showdown of the Godly brothers clashing, and again the end fight is lots of fun and holds a classic cheesy Sword And Sandal Film appeal to it. It’s a shame that Durak Malloy and the rest of his animal people soldiers are a second thought in this issue and they write them off in one panel after they just helped against a handful or warriors, I would have liked for at least Durak Malloy to be with them for the rest of this series. At the end of this issue they also alert us that the “direction” of this comic series is changing and the only thing I can think of as to why they would do this is cause low sales or a new team of creators taking over the series. The cover is great and eye catching for the time and the Garcia does the interior art once more once more, and its great and so fitting for 70’s style DC Comics. Issue six of Hercules Unbound holds up just like all this series this far and I really have been enjoying revisiting it, so let’s move onto issue seven to see how the new direction holds up.

Hercules Unbound # 7  ***
Released in 1976     Cover Price .30     DC Comics     # 7 of 12

Hercules along with Kevin, Basil, Jennifer and Dave are on a quest to find the lake known as Loch Ness, and after getting across a dam they find their destination! Once around the lake they are greeted by three beautiful women who are apart of a group called The Order Of Tarn and invite them to have a meal and rest for a bit with them and the fellow members, the others rush to the idea of a free meal as Hercules is a little more untrusting…but soon gives in. During the meal all is well and everyone is having fun, that is until they all pass out as they have been drugged and when they awaken they are tied up and near the lake and meet an old man with a staff named Casper Zedd who informs them that he has been give great power by the Master Monster God of the lake and that for the Master to regain full power he must kill Kevin as the alerts them all that the boy is something more special then a human, and when the Master is summoned to Hercules shock he sees that he is no Lake Monster but is the Titan Oceanus! Hercules warns Casper of the dangers of Oceanus as the Titan wants to really rule the world and when the old man don’t listen, Hercules breaks free and saves Kevin and the rest of his friends and they rush off to the Dam after knocking down Casper who is now enraged and wants them all dead. The heroes make it to the dam and Dave works fast to make the electricity that the dam creates into a weapon that they can use on Oceanus who has now arrived at the dam and is fighting Hercules with the intention to kill him! Dave is able to overload the dam and Hercules grabs the raw electricity and throws a massive bolt at Oceanus killing the Titan! The fight takes a lot of Hercules who falls down and is out cold, while the magical staff of Casper Zedd explodes his followers leave and the old man is nothing more than a weak person all alone.

So the new direction of Hercules appears to be to take the Mythic Hero and place him in typical 70’s superhero comic book situations and sprinkle in a bash of mythology…and I have to say I didn’t hate it back then and I still don’t hate it now! This issue has Hercules and his friends going to Loch Ness only to have to fight a Titan and his crazed followers. And with the help of his human friends Hercules is once more able to save the day and ride this war-ridden world of evil. Hercules once more is untrusting to strangers, and is proven right and uses his might and battle ridden mind to bring down a Titan! But it must be said that if not for Dave and his knowledge of how water dams work, Hercules would have been killed by the Titan, so to be honest Dave is just as much of the issues hero as Hercules. Jennifer as always is being set off to the side in the action as Hercules still has very dated views that women can not help in “men’s work” and she is starting to get really annoyed by his primitive thoughts. Kevin in this issue is shown to be something more special then a normal blind man, and its clear that he is something special as with out sight this whole series he acts as if he can see all around him. Casper Zedd and his The Order Of Tarn Cult are easily fooled as Casper is just a pawn for the true evil that is Oceanus a Titan who wants to kill, enslave and rule the world. Oceanus really is one of the most dangerous villains we have meet in this series and in this issue he is super weak, imagine what he could have done if at full power? While the battle between Oceanus and Hercules is slightly lackluster the Titan’s ending really does have a true epic myth feel to it and also is fitting for a quest for Hercules who pulls “lightning” from the sky to throw at his enemy. The cover for this issue is well drawn, but is only ok when it comes to eye catching and this issue has artist Walt Simonson doing the interiors and its fantastic as well! Issue seven keeps up the fact that DC Comics knew how to create an entertaining Hercules comic series.

Hercules Unbound # 8  **
Released in 1977     Cover Price .30     DC Comics     # 8 of 12

Hercules and his friends are on a raft in the waters of Ireland when they are attacked by four old fighter planes that open fire and cause them all to fall into the water, and during this attack Dave drowns and this angers Hercules who hurls objects at the planes causing three to crash and damage another. Hercules still mad about the death of one of his friends follows the damage plane back to a massive metal factory, and after taking down an army of robotic women a voice echoes out from a loud speaker and apologizes for the attacks and invites them in. When inside the meet an older woman named Lady Agatha Simms who as a young woman was hit by an army jeep that left her crippled, but made her mind stronger as she has built war machines for the Government and now is playing a war game with an unknown opponent, and she by mistake thought Hercules and his friends were apart of the “war”. And while she shares her story her base is under attack and then she shares that all the old battle planes, tanks and ships she uses a machine she made that pulls them from the past! She asks Hercules to help her win this battle and if he does she will grant Kevin his site back! Hercules agrees to these terms and along with Kevin, Jennifer and the Female Robots they rush her opponent’s island base. Meanwhile to everyone surprise Dave washes up on shore and is alive and finds himself wondering toward a small town that is filled with robots who take him as a recruit for their “war”. Meanwhile Hercules on the island finds a hidden door to their targets base and to their shock in the chair hooked up to the machines is Dave!

This issue slips a little for me as the “War Games” between two mechanical hooked people just is kind of bland for me, and while I enjoyed the Hercules stuff it still is the least interesting issue in this series for me. And lets be honest they also make Hercules seem like a fool when his friend is drowning and Jennifer tells Hercules to save him, and Hercules says nah its to late only for Dave to be alive…it makes you feel like did Hercules want Dave to die as he could have helped and chose not to bother? Hercules in the issue is also filled with the want for revenge and even does a few acts that he would normally not do and that includes going into a strange building blindly on the request of a total stranger who had already attacked them twice. Jennifer and Kevin are just around and the only major plot point they serve is that if they help in this war game Kevin could be given his site back. Lady Agatha Simms is a weird sort of villain as she is really just wanting to play her War Games with the unknown as she has nothing else better to do, and she also is super brilliant as she can pull weapons from the past to help her cause…but she also does seem to be a little less sweet then she wants people to think. The cover is pretty good and eye catching as I like the World War II planes raining bullets and Hercules and his friends and the interior art by Walt Simonson is good. Over all this is an average issue with a story line that I hope ends in the next issue.

Hercules Unbound # 9  **1/2
Released in 1977      Cover Price .30     DC Comics     # 9 of 12

Hercules tries to attack the now mechanical hooked up Dave who uses a giant magnet to take down the female robots as well as it effects Jennifer, as Hercules grabs Kevin and Basil and they flee from the war room as the plastic robots under Dave’s control start to pour in. Hercules with Kevin are trying to dodge traps and find a way out as Jennifer wakes up and finds the plastic robots out of the room and the wired up Dave shut down and this is her chance to flee. Meanwhile Agatha Simms is upset as she thinks that Hercules has failed so she pulls the atomic bomb from the past and sends it towards the island, as she wants to truly win this war game once and for all. We then learn that a electronic being that is of the worlds defense is who is calling the shots, and after blowing up the original Atomic Bomb over the sea he forces Dave to pull a trigger that will unleash a massive atomic warhead as well as many missiles to destroy Agatha Simms and the land all around! Hercules and Kevin make it back to the war room but are to late to stop the event, but thanks to Jennifer who uses a pipe and pushes a self destruct button the Being is stopped cold and Dave is set free from his mechanical trap. Hercules is able to stop the rest of the missiles by throwing heavy metal at them chopping them in half…but the atomic missile is still on its way. Hercules, Kevin, Basil, Jennifer and the wounded Dave all make it to a boat just as the island explodes from the self destruction button. The heroes sell back to Agatha Simms’s island and are puzzled as it seems to be find as if the atomic missile never hit, and as Hercules and Kevin enter she greats them and informs them that she sent the missile away with a portal that dropped in in Greece in 1986…as this game they played is what started World War III and is what killed Kevin’s Father and Brother…and this makes him walk away from Agatha Simms not wanting her help with his site.

This issue brings the war games to a whole new level as they throw in the original Atomic Bomb into the mix and that’s crazy as in order to win a side is ready to cause total destruction to all living things on the island as well as the land it’s self! This issue has Hercules along with his friends on the island trying to fight of the hooked up mechanical version of Dave who is also controlling plastic robots all for the faith that the crazy old woman they just meet will restore Kevin’s eye sight, and during this battle Hercules runs away with Kevin leaving Jennifer behind who passed out of a magnet was used to take down a ton of robots…making you wonder is she a robot? Hercules in this issue is brave but is also kind of dimwitted as he rushes into battle, blames Dave to being a traitor when he himself left him to drown and gave zero attempts to save him, leaves Jennifer behind and acts like a full caveman with muscles over the calculated hero he has been most of this series. Kevin is just kind of around and wants his site back and acts as the voice or reason for Hercules who is kind of acting different, plus he delivers the shock of the issue as his actions with Hercules is what helped create the events that have caused the world to have fallen apart. Jennifer has a true mystery around her as why did the magnet make her faint? Is she part robot or was it just from all the craziness doing on that she passed out? Dave shows that while he is ego driven he is stronger than people give him credit for as he not only survived almost downing even though he could not swim, he also does what he can to fight off the will of the Defense System Being! The true bad guy in this issue is Agatha Simms who does not care about people’s safety and only wants to win a war against her unknown opponent, and to save herself she sends an atomic bomb to 1986 to a city that is packed full of people to save her hide as well as to claim a victory…she is scum a truly selfish evil person. Over all a entertaining issue and I am glad the War Game story arch is over as it was just an ok adventure for Hercules to be a part of and I must also throw in not keen on the “New” direction this far as the last two issues just feel so generic. The cover is pretty good and eye catching and interior art by Walt Simonson is solid and good. Let’s see what issue ten has in store for us.

Hercules Unbound # 10  ***
Released in 1977     Cover Price .30     DC Comics     # 10 of 12

Hercules, Jennifer and Kevin are in London, England during a rain storm to bury Dave who passed away from his injuries from his run in with the Defense Being, as they are at the cemetery morning their friend a group of scientist are messing with a fragment they found and during an experiment the fragment erupts into a massive geyser of water and Hercules has to think quick to save not only his friends lives but those as well that belong to museum workers and using a lamp poll he quickly makes a ditch to house the water. After everyone is safe Jennifer spots one of the scientist who is dying and warns them that a bigger fragment was found in America and that they must warn them not to experiment on it as the effects will be way worse then this! So they take a Flying Wing Plane from the Museum and Kevin is the one to fly it and oddly enough Kevin also glows with energy showing that the effects of the war has really impacted him. Hercules and crew arrive at the great lakes and find them bare and also meet the Atomic Knights a group of heroes that ride giant Dalmatians and who inform them that a super villain named Dr. Scuba who turned major bodies of water into those blocks! As Hercules grabs a fragment from the block they all head back to the tent to see if they can figure out how to safely bring the water back, but unknown to them the Atomic Knight at the tenet is no longer human and is really a space being! Hercules catches on that the Knight is no longer human as the being inside is getting power from the water cube fragment and makes its move as it wants even more power from the bigger cube in the lakes dried bed, as hit escapes and heads for the water cube Hercules follows and the pair fight it out! The Being Knight is getting stronger as they are close to the water cube and in an act of pure power Hercules lifts the cube and shoves it down the mask whole of the possessed knight causing it to explode and killing the being and filling the lake once more with water! In the end Hercules comes out of the lake and now The Atomic Knights truly know he is Hercules.

This issue has Hercules and his friends coming to America to find that that nation has been rocked by a water shortage thanks to a bad guy named Dr. Skuba that turned it all into blocks of pure energy. I should also note that those events by the villain took place in issue 7 and 8 of OMAC. And while in America the mighty Hercules also meets The Atomic Knights a brave group of giant Dalmatian ridding scientists who have survived World War III. The plot of this issue really does feel like a cheesy DC Superhero story complete with an epic fist fight and a super villain who has caused so much world sadness. And let us not also forget that poor Dave Riggs who survived almost drowning, and becoming a plaything for a Defense Department Entity only to finally die from energies…poor Dave his life could have been saved really if Hercules would have just made a tiny attempt to have saved him when he fell into the water. Hercules in this issue is pure hero and not only once more uses his power and brains but once more also goes by his gut instinct that ends up truly being the thing that saves the day. Jennifer and Kevin are around with only Kevin having a little more character development as its shown he can store power and can fire it from his hands like a laser blast when fully charged. The Atomic Knights are around and are no match for their quick fight with Hercules but once they are proven to be friends they also act as a source to explain what the water cubes are and why for those who did not read the OMAC issues, and while they are not major players in this issue it was great to see them in the issue as it was a cool way to bring other DC characters into this world just like they did before with Durak Malloy and the other talking animal people that are from the Jack Kirby created series Kamandi, well not them per say but talking animal people. The issues bad guy is a being that takes over the armor of one of the dead Atomic Knights and while he is powerful once he is near the water cubes, he is outsmarted and destroyed by Hercules with extreme destruction. The cover art is great and has Hercules fighting a massive knight and the interior art by Walt Simonson is great like before. Over all a good and entertaining issue that shows that Hercules Unbound might be back on track of delivering amazing adventures of the Mythic Hero in a world of chaos and war.

Hercules Unbound # 11  **1/2
Released in 1977     Cover Price .35     DC Comics     # 11 of 12

Hercules along with Jennifer, Kevin, Basil and The Atomic Knights are in Detroit at a factory were the Knights have just created a new set of armor for Hercules that can withstand heat, cold and brute force! After an accident at the factory leaves it in rubble they all get back onto the Flying Wing and once more Kevin and his weird power take the wheel, but something goes wrong as Kevin turns evil for a second and his actions end up knocking The Atomic Knights and Hercules from the Wing and is going crazy with power endangering Jennifer and Basil who are stuck on the flying machine with him and he is using the weapons on the Flying Wing to attack the base of the Knights! Hercules shakes off the fall and acts quickly and uses a giant rock to throw into the near by water to cause the Flying Wing to crash land, and once down he and The Atomic Knights rush over to pull everyone from the wreck. Meanwhile on Mount Olympus the Gods lead by Zeus are stuck in their castle as a strange storm is outside keeping them trapped inside and with one last chance to warn Hercules of the Earths doom by Anti-Gods and send a message his way via a bolt that hits Jennifer, and this message comes at a terrible time as Hercules has his friend Kevin in changes and he along with The Atomic Knights are trying to tell him that they had to put him in chains for his own safety as the blind young man does not remember his rampage from earlier. Jennifer via the Gods warn them that danger is coming and just like that a massive red fire breathing dragon appears and attacks them and Hercules once more springs into action and does his best to fight off the Dragon and protect his friends. Hercules uses dirt to smolder out the Fire Dragon, but in the fight poor Jennifer died of fright! Hercules unchains Kevin and they bury their friend, when once more Kevin has an attack of energy and rushes to the Flying Wing with Hercules just able to grab the wing in time to try and save his friend. The Flying Wing crashes in the ocean and to Hercules shock its by the rock he was chained to for centuries, and its there that Kevin turns into Ares who tells Hercules this is the spot that shall bring back the Anti-Gods!

Ok the first thing I have to say about this issue is that I hate the new armor look of Hercules and I am not a fan of the interior art done by Walt Simonson this time around as I find it very sloppy and rushed and to be honest has a unfinished look…not a fan at all. But with that said this issue really surprised me as the more I read the more I enjoyed the story as at first I was kind of middle of the road about it as it started to feel like a filler issue, but by the end I was hooked and wondering who the Anti-Gods are and what Hercules will have to do to stop them in their tracks! Hercules in this issue comes off as generic hero as he show no real personality and is all just “Ill Save The Day” in his attitude and actions. Kevin going crazy with power is interesting, but also with only one more issue to go it needs to be explained and better have a good payout, as it also begs the question was he Ares all along? Jennifer is just hanging around and is not used much to really further her storyline in this series, besides to die of fright…what a lame way to kill a character off. The Atomic Knights are clearly just background players in these last few issues and don’t really offer much in the way of the story. Zeus and the rest of the Gods are finally being shown and it’s their story that really made me take notice as they seem both to feel sorry for what’s going on with Earth as well as seem very made at people that live on the planet. Plus who are the Anti-Gods and why do they hate the old Gods and also the people of Earth, and why is Ares The God Of War wanting them to be brought back? The action in this issue starts right off the bat with the accident at the factory and then gives us action on the Flying Wing and then wraps with the fight with the Dragon showing that it was not pulling any punches. The cover is eye catching in layout and colors, but again not a fan of the art Walt is using. Over all a slightly above average read that was entertaining and is a nice build to the final issue.

Hercules Unbound # 12  ***
Released in 1977     Cover Price .35     DC Comics     # 11 of 12

On the tiny Island Hercules finds out that it is not Ares The God Of War that stands before him instead its Anti-Ares and after trying to fight him he finds that he muscles will not bring him down as the fighting only makes him stronger! And in the end Hercules is buried under rumble and Anti-Ares jumps into a portal to join together with his brothers and sisters and what comes back out of the portal is a multiple headed creature that is known as the Anti-Gods! The Anti-Gods fly away and out from hiding comes Basil who helps Hercules get out from under the ruble, but soon after touching the chains that kept him held on that island in the past he finds himself all of a sudden riding two thunderbolts that brings him to Mount Olympus and travels through the storm and finally comes face to face with his father Zeus who tells his son that he was the one that created the Anti-Gods as he and the others removed all their anger and evil to find perfection and instead created this God Killing being! And that it was he not Ares that chained him to the rock on that island as he as well gave that order as he did so cause the chains and Hercules power is what kept the Anti-Gods trapped in that rock…he then tells him that Kevin has been possessed by the Anti-Ares from the first day he meet him! This sickens Hercules who is angered with his father, but that changes fast when Anti-Gods appears and is ready to kill them all! Hercules watches as The Anti-Gods and the Gods clash its clear that the battle will leave many dead, so Hercules takes the chains that once held him and starts to bring down Olympus, and this makes the Gods and Anti-Gods both rush to stop him and by them being on the same page this combines the Anti-Gods back into the Gods ending the fight and causing Hercules to stop his rampage as he knew this would cause the Anti-Gods being to be no more. Hercules is sick of being used by Zeus as a pawn to only protect him and he returns to Earth were he is joined by Basil and to his surprise Jennifer as well as Zeus has brought her back from the dead to undue the wrongs that have been done to his son. In the end Hercules, Jennifer and Basil walk away from the sun set into a war rattled world.

Hercules Unbound is one of those really good series that got canceled by poor sales as DC Comics had a very bad habit at this time of canceling titles if they did not sell Batman and Superman level of copies. This final issue has Hercules learning that all along he has been used by his father in order to protect his own mistakes that he was even willing to chain his son to a rock on an island for thousands of years in order to keep monsters he created captured…in other words Zeus is a real jerk in this issue, but by the end he does feel bad for what he has put his son through. Hercules through this whole series goes from protective hero of his friends, to cocky head strong muscle head to a son who has been treated poorly by his family…and through out it all he maintains that he must do the right thing! I like that Hercules in this series stops all types of bad guys and makes friend with others along the way showing that this old Greek Myth Hero really is the champion the world needed during the fallout of World War III. Kevin the blind young man that was Hercules right hand man during this series has never been who we all thought as he as been just a shell that housed the evil Anti-Ares…and while this is a cool twist it also makes no sense as why would the Anti-Ares help Hercules out like he did throughout the series if he just wanted death to all the Gods. I am so glad that Jennifer came back from the dead as the way she died was really cheesy as fright of a Dragon is what killed her…its almost as bad as Padme Amidala’s death by heart break in Star Wars Episode III. Zeus and the rest of the Gods are shown to be very selfish as they created pure evil for their own quest for perfection and even don’t mind ruining and killing others to protect their own hides. The Anti-Gods are super powerful and while I am sure could have caused so much destruction on Earth and Mount Olympus, it’s down played as they had to wrap him up in one issue. It’s a shame that Hercules Unbound did not last longer as a comic series as I would have love to have seen more of the Anti-Gods, I would have loved to have seen what other monsters he could have faced and what other DC Comics series would have been tied in. The cover for this final issue is eye catching and like before not a fan of Walt’s style for this issue as its back to being that sloppy unfinished look. Over all Hercules Unbound is a comic series that I loved when I was a kid and for me it stood the test of time as most of the issues in this series where highly entertaining and is one of the better Hercules in comics series ever made. If you have not read this comic series and like Post Apocalyptic Stories, Sword And Sandal films mixed with Sci-Fi elements or just classic heroes do yourself a favor and give it a read. Check out the art below to see the styles used in this series.

Well as you can see I think DC Comics did a fantastic job with Hercules and I would say that I think Hercules Unbound is a better series then the Marvel Hercules in space mini series we have covered here before. And its crazy that after this update we will be walking away from Hercules on my Thanksgiving updates and I don’t know how to really feel about it as I have very much enjoyed covering Hercules and all his adventures throughout the world of comics, but while this is a goodbye to Herc for now its not a forever one as we will at some point in time revisit him on Thanksgiving and will start it back up as to me Hercules and this holiday go hand and hand. So as always thanks for spending apart of your holiday here with me at Rotten Ink and I have something very cool for my next update as we will be leaving the world of comics and will be taking a look at a the first film of Independent B Movie called Teen Suicide and this will also mark the first in my updates that will talk about all the Shot On Video films that my fiends and I made over the years. So until next time eat turkey leg or two, watch a Hercules film or three and as always support your local Horror Host. I cannot wait to take you all back to my past of SOV filmmaking!

Hercules Once More Wants You To Marvel At Him This Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! It’s hard to believe that we are once again at our big Turkey Day update and that means we will also be going back to Ancient Greece or in the case space as we are going to once more check in on Hercules from the Marvel Universe and the second mini series of him having adventures in space after being kicked off Mount Olympus for partying too much by his father Zeus! We also will be chatting a little about the character again and some of my memories of the Marvel version of Hercules, and we will also have a very special announcement about an upcoming Sparkle Comic that I will be writing and editing! But if you’re like me, I can smell the ham cooking and am looking forward to eating some mashed potatoes and rolls so let’s get this update started! Well I should say also that I am thankful for my family and friends all who have made my life so much better! I am thankful for Sparkle Comics and Blood Scream Comics as it’s a great outlet to be creative with friends and entertain readers! I am thankful for my cats Leslie and Streets J who add joy to my day-to-day life! I am thankful for my job as it’s a fun place to work and my co-workers are all outstanding people! I am thankful to Baron Von Porkchop as doing a Horror Host show is a dream come true! I also want to thank all my friends who use to make shot on video films with me back in the day of Independent B Movie and Bloodline Video as those films were so much fun to make! Oh I also want to say a very big THANK YOU for spending apart of your holiday with me here on Rotten Ink. So let’s catch back up with our good pal Hercules!

Growing up, I read lots of Marvel Comics from all decades as my brother and I would collect whatever issues we could get our hands on. And I can remember reading issues with Hercules in them mostly in the pages of The Avengers, Thor and Marvel Premire and while I enjoyed his antics in the pages of those comics I was never a diehard Marvel Hercules fan and that’s shocking as I loved the legend of Hercules but I think he just got lost in the shuffle as Hulk, Captain America, Spider-Man and Thor got most of my comic reading attention when it came to Marvel. In the Marvel Universe Hercules is an egomaniac that is a party animal and rushes into battle as he fears nothing and thinks his power and strength cant be topped. He is also a womanizer who even at times looks down on the female heroes and not in a mean way but more he is just so out of touch. Oh and he drinks a lot and is drunk at times causing issues. But while he does have flaws and its more because he is a fish out or water a hero out of his own time he does have lots of positives as he is very loyal to his friends and would sacrifice his own life to be the hero of the day. Plus in the Marvel Universe Hercules is strong and powerful but is not on the level of Thor or Hulk and has lost many battles even once being put into a coma by The Masters Of Evil. I also remember a story arch that had Hercules being fearful of battle and trying to hide his fear from other heroes, this took place in Thor Comics and that helped add another layer to the character for a short time. I also remember the multiple time that Hercules took on The Incredible Hulk and while good fights old Herc was always outclassed. The character as of recent time has been more of a background player even though he took over Hulks book for a while during the aftermath of the World War Hulk arch that had the name change to “The Incredible Hercules” and ran from 2008-2010 before being cancelled and going back to The Hulk. He also played a good part in Marvel Zombies as well as the long running event that was called Secret Empire and was apart of the underground team to bring down Hydra. So while Hercules in the Marvel Universe has never made his way to the films nor has he ever really been a major player he has to be respected as he has did his best to add to the Universe and brought a classic Greek hero to the world of Marvel Comics. What I would like to see Marvel do with Hercules in 2018 would be that he is on the outs with his fellow Gods and in order to get the respect and honor back he is given new labors that test his wits and might and even turns him into almost a anti-hero as he is forced to fight even fellow heroes as well as take a side in wars fought among men. Just an idea and a way to make Hercules be front and center as Thor and others are not sure his motives and he himself having to act under the will of his angry father who wants his son to be more vengeful. But I am sure Hercules will always be what he is in Marvel and that’s a solid background and team member of a massive team.

So now is the time for the major announcement about a future Sparkle Comics comic that is in the works and will be released sometimes in 2019 that will have me doing the stories and have the super talented Jeff Potter doing the art,  For those who don’t know, Mr. Potter has done the art for the Sparkle releases of Adventure Man # 1 based on the 80’s knock off generic toy of the same name as well as the comic based on the old shot on video film from Independent B Movie Farmer Joe # 0.  Both are top notch amazing comic books if this Editor In Chief says so himself! So I am sure you are now really wanting to know what this title will be, and I am going to share this with you my blog readers first before it hits the Sparkle website or social media that we will being doing a ongoing comic series based on the Greek Hero Hercules that will be inspired by the classic Sword And Sandal films from the 50s and 60s.  The first issue will have Herc taking on the Cannibal Cavemen! This is a project that I am very pleased to be doing as growing up I loved watching those classic films that starred Steve Reeves, Reg Park and Alan Steel as I found them to be lots of fun filled with action, adventures, drama and even dashes of science fiction.  The world of comics is lacking this type of comic starting Hercules. and I am proud that Sparkle will be able to bring this series to comics shops in Ohio as well as via online. So I hope that this has made many of you readers happy, and I hope many of you will check this comic series out once it”s released in 2019 and that it takes you back to the days of watching Hercules films on Saturday Mornings and reading his adventures in the pages of Charlton Comics. Check out the raw image of the cover for our first issue and again very much looking forward to creating this comics stories and quests.

So there it was, Sparkle Comics is doing a Hercules comic series that will be starting in 2019 that will for sure please fans of this classic Greek Demigod hero. So we are now at the time of the update when I have to start the comic review, and it’s kind of sad to think that this will be the last time we will be visiting Marvel Comics’ version of Hercules on Thanksgiving as he only had two classic mini series and with this one we have covered them both. To be honest, I am not really sure why I think of Hercules and Sword And Sandal films on this day but ever since I was a kid, strangely, I have….I wonder if when I was a kid maybe my dad had something like the Steve Reeve Hercules films or Three Stooges Meet Hercules on the TV on Thanksgiving….or if it’s because most of the Hercules films are considered Golden Turkeys? Whatever the reason, I will do my best to always cover a Hercules comic series on Turkey day and or at least some sort of Greek Hero book. So before we travel back to space and catch up with our pal Hercules, I do want to remind you all that I grade these comics on a scale of 1 to 4 and you are looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story! So with that, let’s see what our old pal Hercules is up to on his second space mini series adventure!

Hercules: Prince Of Power # 1   **1/2
Released in 1984     Cover Price $0.60    Marvel     # 1 of 4

Hercules has taken sides in a battle in space over a planet that is used for mining and two sides are fighting over the riches that are present one side is rebels the other is the government and Herc and Recorder are on the side of the government and after bringing down the leader of the rebels who turned out to be a Skrull this battle also leads to the death of one of Hercules closest friends in space as he has been hanging out with for over 40 years and this is a sign for Hercules to move on deeper into space to find a new adventure. Once arriving to the new planet Hercules and Recorder meet Officer Tyne Pryntess who is an officer and who allows our hero to stay on the planet but she must interview Recorder to get information. While checking into his hotel room Hercules spots a beautiful woman who ignores his charms and this makes him want to have her even more! Meanwhile on Mount Olympus Ares The God Of War is mad and braiding his fellow Gods about growing old and fat and even condemns Zeus for allowing humans to have free will, this angers Zeus who turns Ares into ash and storms off. Hercules soon finds his dream girl who’s named Sasha who is a model and as she is on stage he corners her only to find out she is a he and is a Skrull who is in hiding as he was to be killed on his home planet! While Hercules forgives the Skrull but the crowd does not and Herc is forced to flee with the Skrull and Recorder as he does not want to hurt anyone. So after escaping they escape the planet with the help of Tyne Pryntess. We cut to the throne room of Zeus on Mount Olympus and the father of all gods tells his brother Pluto that all the Greek gods must die!

This 2nd series starts off with a bang as our plot takes Hercules and his robot friend Recorder deeper into space as Hercules losses a friend to a war that was caused by a Skrull, meets a woman he wants to get with that’s a Skrull and ends up befriending the shape shifting alien and is able to escape the planet. But while the plot of Hercules adventure is space is fun the real interesting story that is brewing is the fact Zeus is aware he is loosing his footing with mankind and is now on a warpath of killing his own godly children and starts by killing Ares as he speaks the truth of the God’s loosing their followers on Earth. Hercules in this issue is still very brave and is on the side of what’s right as he opens the issue helping the Government stop a group of Rebels who are hellbent on killing. He also shows very much he values friendship and that he has a big heart as the death of his friend truly bothers him. But as always while he is a hero he also spends most the issue trying to swoon women and push them into kissing or falling in love with him!! Recorder is around and once more filled with facts and advice and is still a great character but I will say he seems to be not as fun loving as he was in the first series. Skyppi is a Skrull who is a fugitive on his home planet and hides himself as a super model in order to earn money to survive, so far he seems like an older Skrull who fears death on his home planet will be cool to see if he joins Hercules and Recorder for this whole mini series. Officer Tyne Pryntess seems like a really good person and she can tell when people are lying as well and calm even the most wild of beasts, makes you wonder if she will come into play more in this series. Over all this first issue is a great way to kick off the 2nd space adventure for the Prince Of Power and I really cant wait to see how the Zeus storyline plays out as his path of killing rage is very interesting. So as I am smelling the ham cooking lets move onto the second issue and see what its has in store for us before dinner. Oh and I want to say that I really dig the cover of this issue as it showcases our three traveling heroes.

Hercules: Prince Of Power # 2  ***
Released in 1984      Cover Price $0.60    Marvel      # 2 of 4

Hercules along with Recorder and Skyppi are trying to escape the planet in the chariot and are being chased by the police who are willing to shoot them down! Hercules jumps from the chariot and stops the police from chasing them but while doing this the chariot crashes and leaves Recorder hurt and in need of repair and they rush to get him repaired. Meanwhile a crazed Skrull hater named Red Wolf is on a rampage and is killing Skrulls on a space station including a politician! Red Wolf is shot down and turns into a normal human named Rojohn Smythe and is taken to jail. Meanwhile Hercules and Skyppi get Recorder to a repair shop only for themselves to be under attack by the stations police force when they get a call that Herc is now a wanted man! As Hercules gets arrested Skyppi turns into a bug and escapes as Recorder is still left in the repair shop. Back on Mount Olympus things are going bad as Zeus is on a killing spree and is taking the lives of his fellow Gods with only Apollo able to escape as he rockets himself into space. Hercules wakes up in jail from a nightmare and due to Zeus actions he has also aged, and worse he is sharing the cell with Rojohn who explains that he cannot control Red Wolf as it’s a spirit that lives inside him that hates Skrulls! As they chat Skyppi shows up to break them out and this triggers Red Wolf who goes into kill mode and attacks the old Skrull! Hercules stands up for his friend and fights Red Wolf around the jail and this leads them to the airlock and when it opens Hercules saves the life of Red Wolf who in turn respects Herc and runs distraction to the guards so Hercules, Skyppi and Recorder can get to the chariot and head to Mount Olympus to see what is going on with his father as the nightmare he had shook the Prince Of Power to his core.

Wow this second issue is really good and if you dig Hercules in the Marvel Universe this is one that is worth a read! The plot of this issue has Herc and his pals escaping one planet that leaves Recorder damaged and in need of repair all because Hercules was careless and only wanted to fight and not get his friends to safety, and when getting them off the planet finally they end up at a space station that has a Skrull hating possessed killer who has his eye on Skyppi! Hercules in this issue learns a lesson that his careless love for battle does have downsides as it leads to a friend being hurt, he also learns that using a combination of fighting and brains is the best way to win a fight! One thing as well that happens to the ever cocky Hercules in this issue is that he is growing older as his father Zeus kills more of his fellow Gods and this worries the Prince Of Power as he don’t know what’s going on at Mount Olympus but knows something is wrong for sure! Recorder and Skyppi are great sidekick characters and while they are under the protection of the Lion of Olympus they also are looking out for him as they try their best to be his voice of reason. Red Wolf is a spirit who for some reason 100% hates Skrulls and wants to kill as many of them as he can! While Red Wolf is a bad spirit he does knows respect when his life is saved and in turn does what he can to help Hercules escape the space station. I really liked the look of Red Wolf as it was a weird mix of Native American, Sabertooth and demon! Zeus has lost his mind and is really on a killing spree on Mount Olympus and is truly the main villain of this comic series! The only God this far to escape is Apollo who has fled for his life and by the looks might be on his way to find Hercules to try and get help. What I like the most about this series this far is the fact Hercules is traveling around causing a mess were ever he is going and while he is having a space adventure his home on Mount Olympus is crumbling! Cool cover and great interior art work by Bob Layton and another fun issue in this mini series….man I can smell that ham cooking even stronger so lets move on to issue three!

Hercules: Prince Of Power # 3   **1/2
Released in 1984      Cover Price $0.60    Marvel      # 3 of 4

We start on a moon planet and a group of tomb raiders are being slaughtered by someone who is setting traps by using jewels and leaves the only survivor Shreck left to enter and retrieve the pure power that awaits him inside! Meanwhile Hercules along with his friends are traveling back to Mount Olympus when he gets a call from Mentor that he needs to rush to Titan as something bad has taken place. As Hercules arrives he soon finds out that Apollo is there and as well has aged and is near death, before the God of Light dies he tells Herc that all that awaits him back on Olympus is death. Mentor takes Hercules to the side and takes him to the great space computer ISSAC to see what is going on at Mount Olympus and soon finds that all of his fellow Gods are dead besides Zeus! Meanwhile Shreck finds what he is looking for and that’s the tomb of the late Captain Marvel and he steals the dead heroes power bands and heads to Titan and attacks just as Hercules is set to leave for his home. While Hercules, Skyppi and Mentor all try and hold off the now powerful Shreck who is doing his evil deeds all in the name of Thanos, Recorder and ISSAC are trying to find a weakness in the power that was once the mighty Captain Marvels. As Shreck knocks out our heroes in a brutal battle and starts his destruction of Titan, Recorder gets the information he needs to give to the awakening Hercules and the prince of power sets the plan in motion and tricks Shreck into a power core that overloads him and ends his path of terror once and for all. As Mentor and says farewell to Hercules, the might Zeus sits on his throne on Mount Olympus and awaits the arrival of his last son.

This was an entertaining issue that adds one last side quest to Hercules before he can make his way home to find out the answers he is seeking. This one has Hercules and his pals defending Titan from a power crazed madman who is a follower of Thanos and who has robbed the grave of Captain Marvel to do so! Hercules in this issue is still very much fun loving and looking for fighting action but he also really seems to be worried about his home and all his fellow Gods that live there. Plus as always he sticks his own neck out in order to save his friends and the innocent people who could be injured unjustly. Recorder is super helpful in this issue as he is quick minded and along with the worlds Super Space Computer come up with a plan to stop the threat in its destructive tracks. Skyppi as well tries what he can to help by shape shifting and trying to keep Shreck at bay, while he is a downbeat old Skrull he still shows he very much is a loyal friend to Hercules. Mentor, his son StarFox and computer ISSAC all live on Titan and try to warn Herc on what’s awaiting him on Mount Olympus and also offered shelter to the dying Apollo. Shreck is a soulless scumbag who follows the words and evil teachings of Thanos and robs a grave of a beloved superhero in order to still his power bracelets to bring death to all those who ever wronged his idol. Shreck is a true scumbag and a terrible person and even sent in his own friends to get what he needed and knew that they would keep dying…Shreck is a terrible person so once he is brought down you find yourself very happy. The sad part of this issue is seeing Apollo very old and dying with Hercules by his side telling him that their home is no more and that Zeus as turned against them all. I think the best thing about this issue for me was the last page that had Zeus sitting on his throne holding a bloody axe and awaiting the arrival of his last son alive. Cover of this issue is so-so and the interior art by Bob Layton is good and I should also say that he also did the story for this mini series. So with that this issue is good and a nice set up for the final issue and with that lets move onto the fourth and final issue.

Hercules: Prince Of Power # 4  ***
Released in 1984    Cover Price $0.60    Marvel      # 4 of 4

Hercules arrives at Mount Olympus and finds it in ruins and all his fellow Gods dead and gone. His father with anger and hate in his eyes sits waiting for him to enter and challenges him to a fight that will leave one of them dead! Hercules refuses to fight his father and this angers Zeus who also creates a marble Horse Monster to go after and run off Recorder and Skyppi and attacks his son! Zeus beats Hercules up and damages his arm and blinds him in one eye, he also alerts his son that his fate is with a pearl that he had placed in a vat of fire and just as the father of all Gods is about to kill his son, Hercules smashes the walls around them and buries Zeus under the rubble. Meanwhile Recorder and Skyppi trick the Marble Horse and push it down a hole and return to find Hercules weak and possibly dying from his wounds, as they try and get him to Apollo’s Chariot the Mighty Zeus breaks free and is hungry for blood! As Recorder takes Hercules away Skyppi stays behind and takes the form of Herc to try and trick Zeus but it does not as Zeus grabs Skyppi by the neck and “snaps” it just as Hercules comes back for him and this trigger the Prince Of Power to fight his father and he gives the king of Gods a butt whopping! Just as Hercules is about to smash his father with an axe he drops it and Zeus informs him that he has passed the test and that he would like for Hercules to be the new role model of mankind as he and the Gods time has long been over, and that he never really killed the other gods they are all just in another dimension were they will all live and Hercules as well can decide if he wants to stay or join his fellow Gods in this new dimension by getting the pearl from the fire. As Zeus leaves Hercules is filled with joy knowing his father has only testing him and not truly mad and decides to stay and go on more adventures with Recorder and Skyppi!

Hercules The Prince Of Power fighting The Father of The Gods Zeus in a bloody battle is the plot of this issue, and man, was this a fun one to read! The fact that Zeus is like a crazy axe wielding maniac filled with rage and a cocky attitude makes him a very evil foe for Hercules, but after almost beating his son to death and forcing his own son to almost beat him to death we all learn that this was just a test to see if Herc has learned a lesson and if he would like to join the Gods in a new dimension or if he would like to stay on Earth and do good for humankind. In this issue Hercules shows that he is not only loyal to his family but also his friends, and when pushed, he will do the right thing even if it’s fighting his own father to the death. He also shows that he can be hurt badly as his father blinds him in one eye and almost removes one of his arms from a powerful blow with his axe. I also really like that Hercules decides to stay on Earth and by doing so his wounds are healed and his aging goes away. Skyppi and Recorder show that they work well as a team as they outsmart and defeat a massive foe made of stone and even risk their own lives in order to try and help save Hercules. Zeus starts the issue out being a monster who it’s clear could kill Hercules and his friends with ease, but by the ends shows that he is a loving father and an ancient god that knows his time has passed. This second mini series continues the adventure of Hercules in space and ends with him back at Mount Olympus and delivers a very fun and entertaining read that is sure to please fans of this character as well as fans of the old Sword And Sandal films. The cover of this issue is pretty great and shows a evil looking Zeus standing over a defeated Hercules and is eye catching, and once more, the story and interior art done by Bob Layton is fantastic and is great classic 80’s Marvel stuff and makes this even more enjoyable. So as you can see, this was a solid 4 issue read that delivers adventure and drama and throws in just enough Greek mythology to make it fun for fans of comics and history! Check out the art below to see a sample of Layton’s style, and to sum it up, this was a great read for Thanksgiving 2017.

So ends Rotten Ink’s journey with Marvel’s version of Hercules. It was a fun ride filled with space and gods, and I would like to think that Hercules, Recorder and Skyppi are flying around on Apollo’s Chariot this very night chatting about battle and eating turkey! Speaking of eating, dinner is ready, and I am hungry and looking forward to spending sometime with my family on this holiday. So I am going to wrap this update up and hope that you and your family and friends have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Out next update will be about The Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils, a weird 90’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles rip off that was unleashed on the readers. So until next time, eat a turkey leg or two, watch a football game or three and make sure to watch a Horror Host on this Holiday evening! Once more Happy Thanksgiving to all of you friends, family and readers.

 

Hercules: The Legendary Turkey Day Journeys In Mashed Potato Land

Happy Thanksgiving! It’s another great holiday filled with turkey and all the fixings so I figured we ought to once more take a look at that Greek hero Hercules! As you long time readers remember last Thanksgiving we took a look at the Steve Reeves inspired Hercules comic made by Dell.  Well this year we are covering the Topps’ Kevin Sorbo TV version of the muscled hero. This Thanksgiving I am at my parents’ house spending time with family, eating way to much food and loving life so let’s not wait any longer to dive into this review because I am pretty sure I am close to being in a food coma! Oh yeah enjoy the Indian and Pilgrim below because thats what Thanksgiving’s all about right? Or is it football…I forget.

thanksgiving sexy indianTurkey Artpilgrim princess

In 1994 MCA/ Universal Television created a two hour block of programing called “Action Pack” that would consist of TV Shows or a Made for TV Movie all done by Renaissance Pictures, which was founded by Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell and Rob Tapert who brought us The Evil Dead films. This block of TV lasted until 2001 and gave us such shows as “Xena: Warrior Princess”, “Cleopatra 2525”, “Jack Of All Trades”, “Vanishing Son” and “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” not to mention the Hercules films that came before it was turned into an ongoing series and even one’s based on TekWar and Midnight Run. I can remember when the Hercules films first started to air; I was hooked and would watch them all the time, I even taped a few on the old VCR that was near its last legs of life. The big issue around here was that lots of times the Action Pack did not have a set time when it started and many times sports games and other programs would be on or push its airing to later in the day. This was changed after a while, and I can remember always waking up like clockwork to watch Xena: Warrior Princess, and my Dad turning to it and poking fun at it, as my Mom would make us breakfast. In this modern day and age of TV where crappy reality shows and infomercials rule the airwaves things like Action Pack and horror hosts are truly missed… and oh yeah MTV needs to just end already when they choose to air things like Jersey Shore, Teen Wolf and Teen Mom over playing music videos what they were founded on.  They are dead to me.

Universal Action Pack logo

On January 16th 1995, after a year of just being made for TV movies (5 in total) Hercules: The Legendary Journeys became a full fledged TV show that would last a total of 6 seasons with 111 episodes. The series would follow Hercules played by Kevin Sorbo as he traveled around wronging rights and challenging the Gods who were doing cruel things to humans. Many times he would be joined on his adventures by his best friend Iolaus (Michael Hurst) or even goofy con man Salmoneus played by Robert Trebor and together they would face warlords, thieves, monsters and Gods and all done in a cheesy over the top way. The show, while having some serious moments, was mostly a tongue in cheek show filled with silly humor and outrageous fighting. I loved this show when I was younger and tried to never miss an episode when I could find it on.  I loved old sword and sandal films and always enjoyed the stories and quests of Hercules so watching a TV show done by the people who made The Evil Dead films was a super win for me. One great thing about the show was when they had monsters on and the great cheesy special effects they used, while some times they would just CGI the monsters other times it was guys in rubber suits or makeup. During the show they also introduced a character named Xena who was a female warrior who was cold blooded and a killer.  Well she became so popular that they turned her good and gave her a show called “Xena: Warrior Princess!” Hercules was the top rated syndicated show for many years until Xena took the top spot, but Hercules was the original and spawned lots of merchandise from books to t-shirts and everything inbetween. It also spawned many clone shows like Conan The Adventurer, The Adventures of Sinbad, The New Adventures of Robin Hood, Tarzan: Epic Adventures and Beastmaster showing just how impactful this series was for the time. By the end of the series, Hercules lost steam and Xena was clearly the rising TV star so the show ended marking the end of Hercules being a TV superstar, and also marked the end for many of these silly adventure shows. The show did go on to be released on VHS and DVD so for those looking to rewatch or discover the show the home media market has you covered.

The Legendary Journeys 1The Legendary Journeys 2The Legendary Journeys 3

Kevin David Sorbo was born in 1958 in Mound, Minnesota and grew up in a normal household.  While in college and afterward, he began modeling in print ads and TV to help pay his tuition, and this helped kick start his acting career that started in 1986. Kevin took small roles in TV Shows like Santa Barbara, Murder She Wrote and The Commish until landing the role of Hercules in the 1994 made for TV film Hercules and The Amazon Women.  He would go on to play Hercules in four other made for TV films, a full fledged TV series as well as voiced an animated version in “Hercules & Xena: The Battle For Mount Olympus”. In 1997 he also played the lead character in the comic book movie “Kull The Conqueror” that was slated to be the third Conan movie, but was changed to Sorbo as Kull when Arnold Schwarzenegger turned the role down. Hercules The Legendary Journeys ended in 1999, and his next big show was the 2000 sci-fi adventure series “Andromeda” were he played Captain Dylan Hunt.  The show ended in 2005. After this role Sorbo took small roles in many TV shows like “The O.C.”, “Psych” and “Two And A Half Men”and did a string of direct to video films like “Never Cry Werewolf” and two Walking Tall films. Sorbo also has done some voice work for video games like “God Of War III” where he voiced Hercules and Crusher in “Skylanders: Giants” as well as a few more. Sorbo is still active in acting and has taken many roles now in Christian based films as well as other independent productions.  He can also be seen at many comic and sci-fi conventions as a guest. I always liked Kevin Sorbo as an actor and really think he made a great Hercules, and at some point in time I would love to work with him on an episode of Terrifying Tales Of The Macabre where he and the Baron host the Steve Reeves Hercules movie. So here is hoping that Sam Raimi and company get an itch and make a new Hercules film for TV and have Sorbo back where he belongs.

Kevin Sorbo 1Kevin Sorbo 2Kevin Sorbo 3

Before we get too much into our look at Topps Comics 5 issue run based on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys we should also take a brief moment to take a look at a few of Hercules most popular sidekicks that not only joined him on this super popular show but as well as in this comic series. Iolaus is Herc’s best friend and his traveling buddy who goes on most of his adventures with him.  He is a skilled fighter and well trained with a sword. Iolaus is played by Michael Hurst and is the most popular and best liked of all his sidekicks and was in 79 episodes. Salmoneus is a older man who is balding with a beard who is a pure con man and will uses his friendship with Hercules to get money.  While he is a screw up, his heart is always in the right place and he values his friendship with Hercules. Salmoneus is played by Robert Trebor and appeared in 23 episodes and went on to be a regular on Xena Warrior Princess. Atalanta is a powerful female with strength and power who is a loyal friend to Hercules whom she also has a crush on.  She alongs side Hercules even created the first Olympics. She was played by female body builder Corinna Everson who made muscle bound women attractive to teenage boys.  She appeared in 3 episodes. So now you know a little more about his sidekicks, and if you watched the show then you I am sure all ready knew all this.

Iolaussalmoneus Atalanta

On of my favorite Greek Mythology monsters has always been The Minotaur, and in 1994 one of the made for TV Hercules films came out called “Hercules In The Maze Of The Minotaur.” The film followed Hercules who was retired but is drawn back into adventure when a small village is being terrorized by a evil Minotaur. I really enjoyed the film and can remember watching it many times when it aired and even taped it on VHS. The Minotaur in the movie had a great classic look and was fun to look at as the head was 4 times the size of the actor’s body. The Minotaur was played by Anthony Ray Parker who was known for roles like Dozer in The Matrix and Deputy in The Frightners and many other small roles in movies and TV. It’s a fun silly adventure movie that’s a fun watch on a boring night.  So if you’re bored this Thanksgiving night and are looking for something to watch with your family, give this one a thought.

Hercules In The Maze Of The Minotaur 1Hercules In The Maze Of The Minotaur 2Hercules In The Maze Of The Minotaur 3

Toy company Toy Biz, who was making toys based on Marvel Superheroes, decided to make figures based on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys starting in 1995 that consisted on 5” basic figures, taller monster figures and even 10” figures. The toy line lasted for a total of 3 waves that included six different versions of Hercules, 2 Xena’s and other characters like Iolaus, Ares, She-Demon, Centaur, Minotaur, Mesomorph, Mole-Man, Salmoneus and Atalanta. The larger monster figures in the series included the likes of Hydra, Ceberus, Graegus and many others. I was a little older when these figures came out, but I still collected many of them from the first wave as I got Hercules, Xena, Iolaus and Minotaur and put them on a shelf in my room.  In fact I still have them to this day. Some years later at a thrift store I found the Hydra for .49 and had to buy it because why the heck not? The figures, while cheesy looking, held the appeal of the show and I for one am glad they were made. At some point when I am able to get a bigger place to live I am sure the old Hercules toys will make an appearance in my film editing room.

Toy Biz HerculesToy Biz XenaToy Boz Ares

Titus Software made a video game based on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys in 2000 for the N64 that was about Hercules trying to save his father Zeus from his step brother Ares who has taken the King of the Gods hostage and by doing so had shaken the mortal world and Mount Olympus to the core.  It’s up to Hercules to save him and set everything right. The game was your typical beat em up on the N64 and was a fun solid action game. When the game first came out while I had an N64, Sony’s Playstation was more of my system so I never did play it on release as the rumor was that a port of it was coming to Playstation. I waited and waited and even a very cool Xena game came out and I bought it and beat it to hold me over, but Hercules never did make it to the Playstation and that truly did suck for fans like me. A few years ago when I was working on some video game reviews for Bloodline Video, I chose to play and review Hercules for the N64 and while the game was flawed it still was a very cool game that I gave 2 1/2 stars to.  Sadly though the gaming magazines were not as nice to the game, and it mostly got poor to middle of the road reviews. But if you have a N64 and liked the show, I would say check it out.

N64 Hercules 1Hercules N64 CoverN64 Hercules 2

So I hope you have your walking shoes on, and that your belly is not filled with too much turkey and mashed potatoes because its time for us to go on a journey with Hercules and see what adventures we can get in to! So before we start I should remind you that I grade these comics on a standard 1-4 star rating and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, and its art and story. I also want to thank Mavericks, Bell Book and Lone Star for having these issues in stock for me to be able to review for this Thanksgiving update. So let’s begin because Hercules grows tired of waiting for us.

Hercules 1

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys  # 1  ***
Released in 1996   Cover Price $ 2.95   Topps Comics   #1 of 5

Salmoneus, friend of Hercules, is in a small village telling all who will listen and donate some coin about the famed 12 Labors of his friend.  After his story he meets Pronoea, a woman who pays him to help her find Hercules as she really needs his help. While traveling to find him, the pair comes across a band thief Centaurs who want to steal all their money but they are saved by Hercules who chases them off and finds that Pronoea’s husband has been kidnapped and he is more than happy to help her get him back. After Salmoneus heads back to the village Hercules and Pronoea begin their rescue quest that leads them to her husband who is the Titan Prometheus who has been shrunk down to normal size.  His voice taken and is tortured by a giant gold metal bird who rips at his guts everyday! Hercules is shocked to learn his own father Zeus is the one who is holding the Titan prisoner and after killing the golden bird Herc sets him free and finds out that Zeus, while the one who bound Prometheus, is not the one who made him mute and before they can escape they are attacked by Olympus fighters Bia and Cratos who knock out Hercules and re-chain Prometheus!

Topps Comics really captured the adventure and silly nature of the TV show perfectly with this first issue and proved that when they bought an IP, they treated it right. Hercules in the issue is very noble and clearly wants to do the right thing to help his fellow man. While Hercules is strong, it’s clear he is out matched when he must fight both Olympian fighters whose punches are as strong as a charging Rhino. Salmoneus is as sleazy as ever and, while a friend of Hercules, seems to always try to find a way to make a quick coin from the friendship. Pronoea and Prometheus are victims of the Gods who are using them as pawns in some sort of game to get at each other as well as Hercules. Bia and Cratos are mountains of “men” who have no mouths and are only around to destroy those they are sent after.  The Golden Metal Bird, while tough, is more of just a torture device. I find that the comic has some pretty gruesome moments as Prometheus has his stomach ripped open and you can clearly see his insides.  What makes this a nice touch is that this punishment is also told in real Greek mythology. The art done by Jeff Butler is fantastic, and all the characters look like the actors who play them on the show, and the story by Roy Thomas is also fantastic as this story arc is called “The Trial Of Hercules Part 1.” The cover as well is eye catching, and I can remember buying this issue new off the stands at Mavericks and thinking how cool the cover looked. Well this issue ends with Hercules being taken prisoner and taken away so let’s see just how much trouble our hero is really in shall we?

Hercules 2

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys  # 2  ***
Released in 1996   Cover Price $ 2.95   Topps Comics   #2 of 5

Hercules finds that he is being taken by Bia and Cratos to Zeus who is putting Hercules on trail for freeing Prometheus from a punishment he placed on the Titan. The three Furies are acting as the jury, Zeus himself is the judge and Ares The God Of War is building the case against his half brother. Meanwhile Salmoneus and female powerhouse Atalanta figure out Hercules is in trouble and head to aid him. While Salmoneus shows up to the trail and acts as Hercules’s lawyer, Atalanta frees Prometheus who comes to Hercules’s defense and tells the truth that Ares is the one who made him mute to protect a secret that would have had all the Gods at war with each other! Zeus goes back to Mount Olympus as Ares and Hercules fight that ends with The Furies finding Hercules not guilty and Ares guilty and they take the God of War away to be punished. In the end Prometheus and Pronoea grow back to titanic size as Hercules with friends Salmoneus and Atalanta walk away possibly to have another adventure.

This second issue and the last part of the “Hercules on Trail” storyline is a well done issue and once more captures the magic of the show making for a good read. Hercules seems like he is in deep trouble as he has crossed the path of his father Zeus who is not happy about it at all! Ares wants nothing more than to kill or watch Hercules get murdered making him one evil villain! Prometheus and Pronoea come in at the last moment for the save as they are able to tell he secret that the Titan knows; they truly are the lifesavers of Hercules. Salmoneus is as greedy and spineless as ever and it takes some pushing for him to even attempt to come to his friend’s aid. Zeus is stern and fair and flexes his muscles to show everyone why he is the King of the Gods. Bia and Cratos are pushed to the background of this issue and just become the whipping boys of Hercules’s rage. Atalanta, while cool to see in this comic, doesn’t offer much to the plot, and it’s a shame cause she is a real butt kicker in the show.  In fact one odd thing this comic does is showcase the fact other characters like to look at her boobs and butt! The Furies are ugly females who live for nothing more than to dish out justice, and they seem to enjoy the fact they get to attack Ares who made the mistake of trashing their odd appearances. This issue for being about a trail is pretty action packed and has many good fighting with the best being the Hercules and Ares brawl, and like the first issue this does have some blood as Atalanta is stabbed in the arm protecting Salmoneus from robbers. The art is top notch again done by Jeff Butler, and the story is still done by Roy Thomas showing that they make a great comic making pair. The next issue teases that Xena The Warrior Princess will be appearing and while the fan boy in me is pretty hyped for it, another side kind of just sighs and wishes they would just keep Xena in her own Topps Comic that was gearing up to being made. To sum it up these first two issue are fantastic and are perfect fun cheesy reads for fans of the show like myself.

Hercules 3

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys  # 3  ***
Released in 1996   Cover Price $ 2.95   Topps Comics   #3 of 5

Xena, along with her friend Gabrielle, travel to her home village to find it burnt to the ground and her mother is being held captive by a scar faced general named Aesor who claims that he works for Hercules and that her mother will die if she does not join their army! Xena doesn’t believe these claims until she sees Hercules on the hill watching the carnage below.  This makes her mad, and she and Gabrielle beat up all the soldiers with only Aesor escaping. Xena’s mother takes her to see the body of an old man from the village that was killed during the raid, and Xena swears revenge and heads to Hercules’ village. Iolaus is throwing a birthday party for Alcmene as Xena shows up in a rage and starts attacking, right before things get to bad Hercules along with Salmoneus and Atalanta show up and Xena takes her rage out on her true target Hercules! The two do battle all the while Hercules tries to calm the situation down and proclaim his innocence, and only after Salmoneus talks sense into Xena (whom he is also friend with) does the pair decide to leave their friends behind and team up to find the answers. As the pair travel the run into an old woman who claims she saw Aesor going one way and turns out she in fact is a he and is the shape shifter who claimed to be Hercules known as Periclymenus.

This third issue is more about Xena then Hercules, and while it makes sense to build up this adventure, it’s still a little of a letdown as the title hero seems to be taking a back seat to a hero they clearly were getting ready to push in her own comic series. The story in this issue is pretty classic stuff as Xena thinks Hercules has wronged her village, but in reality the pair of heroes is being set up by a shape shifting bad guy who has his own plans of domination. Hercules once more is a hero and doesn’t want to fight Xena who is going crazy but more wants to talk it out.  Once more Herc is a class act. Xena is a tough woman who, while is a loose cannon, wants so badly to wrong rights and is doing so cause of her rocky past. Iolaus and the rest of the sidekicks, while great seeing them, all seem to just be glorified cameos. The fact Xena thinks that Hercules has sent men to murder and burn down her home village shows just how much she really doesn’t know her friend and proves that she is easily tricked into a rage filled rampages. Periclymenus in his true look is a creepy looking demon type and will indeed be a tough foe for our heroes to beat.  Plus he is able to change his looks and also has an army of back stabbing bad guys. This issue as well is a team up of artist Jeff Butler and writer Roy Thomas and once more proves they are a great team who seem to know the IP and really care about making a quality story. The cover I have is a little silly; it’s a huge live action still of Xena making it clear that Topps was already moving past Hercules and gearing up to focus on their new prized IP. Well let’s move onto the fourth issue and see how our heroes will be able to stop Periclymenus.

Hercules 4

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys  # 4  ***
Released in 1996   Cover Price $ 2.95   Topps Comics   #4 of 5

Periclymenus’s army is attacking another village and have orders to kill everyone.  As the attack happens Hercules and Xena come to the rescue and find out that Periclymenus used them as a diversion so that he could attack Hercules’s home village and kidnap his mother! As Hercules and Xena rush to help, Atalanta, Iolaus, Salmoneus and Gabrielle hold off the attacking army but Periclymenus disguised as the fake Hercules is able to kidnap Alcmene and tells her he needs her help to find a man that will be able to give him the strength of Hercules to go along with the look! When Hercules and Xena arrive, the group informs them of the kidnapping and they all break into groups to find her.  Hercules and Iolaus are a team and end up finding Periclymenus who has found who he was looking for that was his brother who made an elixir that turns things super strong and changing into a Chimaera (a giant flying monster with the head of a goat, upper body of a lion and lower body of a dragon) and sets his site on killing Hercules!

This fourth issue is action packed, and every main character from the show has a good role to play! The whole plot of this issue is a kidnaping and rescue that leads to the baddie getting more power just in time for a final showdown that will be coming up in the final issue. Hercules saves people’s lives and for doing so he puts his own mother at risk.  This major risk helps bring out the human side of him and helps us as the reader feel as if things really could go badly for him. Xena in this issue takes a backseat and plays the role of sidekick as well as Atalanta, Salmoneus and Gabrielle; while they all fight they are not the main focus. Iolaus is a true friend of Hercules and fights along his friends side even when the odds are against them. As for Periclymenus, we learn a little something about him.  So besides being a shape shifter he also has a brother who makes powerful elixirs that can give him more power and up his shifting abilities. Plus the fact that he is now a giant Chimaera looking to rip Hercules apart adds so much to the danger Herc is truly in. Butler and Thomas make a great pair again and deliver another solid and fun issue, and I am really hyped to read the 5th and final issue so let’s not wait any longer.

Hercules 5

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys  # 5  ***
Released in 1996   Cover Price $ 2.95   Topps Comics   #5 of 5

Xena and Gabrielle find Aesor who is being chased by a club wielding giant, and they make a deal with him that they will save him if he takes them to where Periclymenus is holding Hercules’s mother. Meanwhile Hercules and Iolaus find a way to hurt the Chimaera version of the shape shifter who disappears. Hercules finds his mother who must bandage her head due to fallen rocks as Periclymenus’ brother tells them all about their troubled past as well as that when he changes now that his striped black birthmarks will appear on what or whom ever he looks like. Xena and crew coming running up with a giant following and to everyone’s horror they watch has he smashes Aesor into paste! But together Hercules and Xena stop and reluctantly have to kill the giant, just as Periclymenus shows himself again as he was the bandage around Alcmene’s head.  He battles both Xena and Hercules and even knocks his own brother off a cliff.  In the end Xena tricks him into falling to his death or so they all think as he really just took the place of his brother and plans to fight another day as our heroes think the battle is over.

Periclymenus is cold blooded as he knocks his brother off a cliff to his death and then uses his own brothers appearance to have Hercules and Xena save his evil life! He was a great bad guy and when gaining his new powers really was a tough foe for our heroes to fight. Hercules uses all his power, will and wits to try and out muscle the shape shifter and does so to save not only himself from death’s grip but also his mother and friends who are also all in grave danger. Xena uses her skill and mind and is the one who gets the battle to end when she tricks the shape shifter into reaching for a small bottle of the elixir causing him to fall off the same cliff he shoved his brother off. Alcmene as well as both Gabrielle and Iolaus all play small but important parts to this issue’s wrap up story and each show a warrior’s spirit. The issue as well has some blood as the Giant splats Aesor with his club that becomes blood soaked, and then the Giant gets stabbed in the face by Xena’s sword and then falls on top of a stone spike and all done with the red stuff showing. Butler and Thomas once more make a great team and it’s really cool that they were the team for all 5 issues, and each one was well done and solid showing the talent each had and the love of the source material they shared. In fact I would say that this could be one of the best comic series based on a 90’s TV show made at this time and once more brings out my respect for Topps Comics, a company that truly is missed by this comic reader. If you’re a fan of Hercules The Legendary Journeys or just fun cheesy adventure comics based on Greek myths, then I would say that this comic series is worth your time for a read, and I will say they held up after all these years and I liked them back then and find myself liking them now.

Sorbo Herc Art 1Sorbo Herc Art 2Sorbo Herc Art 3

So I hope you had a legendary journey with Hercules and me on this Thanksgiving in 2014, and I must say that this Topps series was really well done and makes me miss them as a comic company even more! Plus it makes me miss the good old days of TV way before reality shows ruled the airwaves when shows like Hercules and Xena were highly watched and loved by viewers. Oh well, like everything in life stuff changes and we ca’nt stop the future. Our next update will be a comic based on a episode of the 1982 Incredible Hulk Cartoon where Hulk fights an ancestor of The Hunchback of Notre Dame! Well I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving with family and friends and that your bellies are not too filled so that you saved room for dessert.  So until next time, enjoy life and make sure to have your own legendary journey!

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